Medication and specialized medical equipment to help with pain. Moreover, Therapy to provide comfort and relief of pain symptoms.
Near the end of life, patients may experience a range of discomforts, including pain, shortness of breath, nausea, anxiety, constipation, swelling, and insomnia, among others. A key goal of hospice care is to reduce these symptoms and increase the patient’s comfort level as much as possible.
Easing these symptoms enhances patients’ well-being, enabling them to make the most of their remaining time. In fact, patients are more likely to receive higher-quality hospice pain management than non-hospice patients with similar health issues, research shows.
Hospice providers treat symptoms in various ways – from the use of certain medications, to psychological and spiritual support, to complementary services such as therapeutic massage. Hospice also provides caregiver training and companionship, which can ease patients’ discomfort.
The hospice team will assess the patient’s pain during each visit. They will use a pain rating scale, as well as the clinicians’ expertise.
Pain rating scales include numeric measures (the patient rates pain from zero to 10 — from no pain to the worst possible pain); pictures of smiley faces with different expressions (the patient points to the face that best reflects their pain level); and the FLACC scale.
FLACC evaluates pain using five categories of non-verbal indicators: face, legs, activity level, crying, and consolability. For instance, is the patient frowning? Are their legs drawn up? Are they moaning? Can they be soothed? FLACC can be based solely on the hospice team’s observations, making it especially useful for patients who are unable to communicate.
Hospice pain management also evaluates and addresses patients’ emotional and spiritual pain and recommend the proper care to the team.